My Travels

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TRAVELS INDEX:  (please scroll down to read)
  • COMOX . . . May 2015
  • TEXAS . . . March 2015 
  • COSTA RICA . . . May 2014 

COMOX . . . May 2015

On Vancouver Island BC, the Comox Valley is an all-season hub of activity and well worth the visit. During the winter Mt Washington is the place for snowboarding, downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or tubing. Summertime you can go sailing, kayaking, and paddle boarding while there are numerous hiking (I like Cumberland Forest), biking, and running trails to enjoy. And to cool off afterwards, you can swim in the ocean, take a dip in fresh-water lakes, or simply enjoy amazing sunsets from the beautiful ocean beaches. 

I'm house/pet sitting in Comox BC which is just across the estuary from where I live. What I really enjoy about local assignments is the opportunity to explore different areas close to home that I may never have come across - and this is one of those places.

Just had to snap a pic of these two Golden Retriever beauties I'm caring for this week. The image of Kess and Archer in a field of yellow flowers (buttercups?) was something I wanted to remember. 

Every morning we go on a nice hour-long hike, and today when we got home it was time to sit out on the deck, cool off, and enjoy the refreshing breezes - definitely a lovely quiet spot to pause and reflect. 

Kess always enjoys some of her favourite neck scratches, but when Archer nosed his way in I thought I'd see how he enjoyed massage - well this was a no-brainer! Massaging down his spine eventually led to a full body massage, and every time I lifted my hands he looked back as if to say more please . . . he was in heaven. Afterwards while he was napping Kess decided this looked too good to miss, and nudged her way in to enjoy her own personal massage. Now they are both fast asleep deep in dreamland . . . guess we now have a new routine!

Ahh the joys of pet sitting! Getting to know each other, bonding on a deeper level, and providing a safe haven for animals are the little things that make me smile. Today it begins with massage, tomorrow maybe we'll try some energy work?

Last day today and I'm going to miss these two . . . they are quite the pair!


TEXAS . . . March 2015

This journey has led me to The Country Place, a complex with both single and town homes set on approximately 200 acres a few miles north of Dallas in north central Texas. They have a nine hole golf course, four tennis courts, two swimming pools and one kiddie pool, playground, park area, exercise room, several lakes and ponds stocked for fishing, and a clubhouse. Wow - lots of stuff to do here. Even though it is hot enough for swimming now, the pools do not open until May 1st - dag nab it!

Texas in March can be either very hot or very cool. Some days it is 75 F, although a cloud cover can quickly drop the temperature to 65 F. For morning or evening dog walks with my new buddy Willow I take a jacket, but during the middle of the day it is definitely t-shirt weather. 

Willow enjoys exploring the grounds, but her favourite place is the far end of the complex where she loves running free and chasing the ball.

Close Encounter of the Slithering Kind - Here in Texas there are many critters to watch out for but I wasn’t expecting to see them inside this complex! This morning Willow and I were surprised by a pair of snakes . . . possibly Water Moccasins that were about three to four feet in length. I wouldn’t have even noticed them except for a large splash as one dropped into the water and then a loud noise as the other one scurried under the bridge.

Caught this picture on our way back from the walk - way to close for my comfort level and I did report them to management. Now I am curious, do they look like Water Moccasins?

Introducing you to Sakki the escape artist! He was digging his way out of the outside enclosure - until all of his escape tunnels were finally blocked off. He really enjoys the freedom of running around the yard and will climb up onto my lap for a piece of lettuce.

And I had so much fun with Willow. She loved chasing the ball on our long walks together and running around with a squeeky toy in her mouth. Now that I am home again, I miss her!


COSTA RICA . . . May 2014

Finally after ten years of dreaming I am actually here in Costa Rica!! Coming from Vancouver Island, British Columbia I discovered that Costa Rica is not an easy place to get to. I travelled on four airplanes from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, then on to Los Angeles, next to Houston, and from there on to San Jose Costa Rica. Layovers in airports totalled many hours, and then there was a four-hour drive from San Jose down to Ojochal! It’s amazing how quickly those jet lagged memories fade upon finally arriving at my destination - wow it was definitely worth the trip.

Lucky for me, I was met at the San Jose airport by an Ojochal neighbour picking up her husband. This wonderful family served as mini guides on the drive down to Ojochal. We stopped for lunch at a cool little café and I enjoyed my meal of salad and fruit smoothie (my first tropical fruits). But the main attraction came after the meal. Just across the road there were CROCODILES. Yes you heard correctly – crocodiles living wild and free. From the bridge high above the river we could safely watch the crocodiles swimming and sunning themselves below us - they were huge. Oh my, what a way to start out this trip! 

From a beautiful casa up in the hills above Ojochal Costa Rica watching the stunning sunsets was a daily ritual. And for me the perfect place to enjoy this natural splendour was to jump into the swimming pool - how great is that!

Because it is really hilly where I am, there are impressive views of the surrounding jungle right down to the ocean. But that means climbing these hills on my daily walks with Jack the fun loving golden retriever. This morning for our first walk we went down some hills to a river where the Jack splashed around. On our way back we went up this great hill - OOPS wrong way - back down the hill and then back up another hill to get home. That was some hike, especially for my first one in this heat. Now I carry a hand drawn map with me until I know my way around.

May is very humid here and hot especially if you are walking. The sweat drips into your eyes. I now know that walking Jack at 5:30 am is the best way to beat the heat. The sun is up at 5 am and sets around 6 pm, but curiously it is never pitch black with the shapes of the hills and trees always visible. 

For my first night in paradise I was in bed by 9 pm, lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle, and slept like a log. Despite warnings that howler monkeys start their growling sounds at 5 am I didn't notice much this morning (guess I was very deep in lala land around that time). Each morning I wake early and lay in bed enjoying the views and letting the sounds of the forest wash over me. Because the bedroom is on the upper level of the house surrounded on all sides by large windows, there are views from all sides of mountains, forests, and the ocean. 

This morning two birds with vivid yellow markings alighted on the branches of a nearby tree. These Chestnut-Mandibled Toucans would be hard to miss - the first ones I have seen in Costa Rica. What impressed me most, beyond this beautiful vision, was their freedom . . . no clipped wings, no cages, no restrictions. My way to experience this country has been to slow down and let it wash over me like the gentle mist coming down from the mountains.

Here it is best to get all your errands and running around done in the morning so that you arrive back home by 2 or 3 pm because at this time of the year that is when the rain starts and it can continue through the night. And when in Costa Rica you will need access to a car for visiting the weekly markets and touring around. Make sure to try Zip Lining - it is such great fun! My running around was done on a 4-wheel drive ATV, the vehicle of choice by people living in the hills, and mine was only licensed for driving within the town. Roads in the hills are rough, dirt and gravel with many potholes, and are really hard on your car. But driving an ATV is very liberating - and by taking Jack on ATV runs up and down the hills, I discovered it was one of his favourite things.

I swam in the ocean, learned to drive an ATV, taught a raw food class, dined in three of the five 5-star restaurants within the town of Ojochal, was welcomed into the expat community, took a permaculture class, visited the local markets, and best of all went zip lining!

Costa Rica has it all - from tropical rainforest, a simmering volcano, cloud forests, beaches, to surfing, hiking, and waterfalls. It is well worth the visit - there is so much more to do - I'll be back!

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